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Advice

Claiming Our Voice: ESSA Implementation

There are many approaches to bargaining for ESSA implementation.
Published: 07/2020

At the local level, ESSA implementation will be an ongoing process. There is no one approach to bargaining ESSA implementation. Locals should consider the options and make the best decision in light of the local situation.

Mutual agreements on the implementation of the ESSA can be achieved through regular bargaining, mid-term bargaining, or joint committees that may already be in place in the contract. Alternatively, the parties could agree to mid-term bargaining only for the purpose of setting up a structure for ESSA implementation.

For the purposes of this document, mid-term bargaining means returning to the bargaining table to discuss all or select provisions of a collective bargaining agreement. Joint committees are labor-management committees composed of association and school district representatives that collaborate on prescribed shared decision-making. These committees usually meet on an identified, preset schedule throughout the course of a contract or for the duration of a specified project. The scope of the decision making authority granted to joint committees can be district-wide or it can be restricted to specified buildings or sites or limited to designated topics or programs.

The key issue for a local association is to ensure that in bargaining states, the local uses the framework of the collective bargaining agreement to clarify the Association’s role in ESSA implementation. In states without collective bargaining rights, a local association can advocate for school board resolutions and school district policy that promote the educator voice in a school district’s ESSA implementation.

In non-bargaining states, local associations can also advocate for joint committees to enhance their voice, but they will not have legal protections to ensure equal partnership. In all cases, locals can also work with parents and other community partners to ensure that ESSA truly ushers in positive changes for students and educators. The prior sections of this document provided some sample language regarding general protections. Download the PDFs below for language provisions highlighting different ways to approach ESSA implementation.

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